10 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Holiday Home Abroad
Are you considering buying a second property or a holiday home abroad? Doing so is a big step, and will take a lot of time, effort and money. First, ask yourself these 10 questions, and don’t sign anything until you have answers.
Have you considered all financial aspects?
A financial advisor is a great starting point for the money side of buying abroad. Try and find one who knows about the property market in your target country as well, if possible. Give him or her full and unadulterated access to all of your finances, from budgets to bills to tax form. Tell them to be entirely honest with you, and let them guide you. Consider things like; if you’re buying a second home, will paying for its upkeep impinge on your ability to maintain your first property? If you lose your job or get made redundant, will you still be able to pay for your property? While these are not fun conversation topics, they are necessities.
Have you done your homework?
Do you know what is going on in the country's government at the moment? With the banks? The transport system? If not, you need to find out before you make any commitments. Get familiar with any issues, both those high up and in local communities. Read the local news like your read your own countries news.
It might also be handy to chat with neighbours or the owner of the local pub or restaurants. You might find out things from them that you wouldn’t find in the mainstream news. They might tell you about a new road that is being built, or a shopping centre. Or, they might warn you that there has been a string of criminal offences in the local area recently. Ask questions and be inquisitive. You’ll likely discover invaluable information.
Do you speak the local language, or plan to learn?
Let’s say you’re headed to a small French village. Oh la la! You can do your research and read a handy guide to buying property in france. But how are your Bonjour’s and your Oui’s!? It is not an absolute necessity to speak the language of the place you’re hoping to buy a property in. But it can really help. From introducing yourself to your new neighbours to asking for things in the supermarket, it can come in handy. You’ll also feel more prepared to deal with more serious issues that might occur. This might be witnessing an RTA, or needing to speak to the police about something.
There are a number of different ways to learn the language. In the time that it takes the buy your property and move in, start taking classes. Going weekly will help massively. But if you don’t have time for them, learn from home. Watch YouTube videos, and enjoy TV and movies in the local language. Put subtitles on and you’ll start to pick bits up. Once you move out there, keep your learning up with an app on your phone, or a language CD for the car. Speak to locals too! Face to face interaction in the country is the single best way to learn. You might even be able to find someone who will teach you in return for lessons in your own language. Win win!
Can you respect the local culture?
Cultures, traditions and ways of life vary massively right across the world. If you really don’t like a certain part of the country's culture, you might want to look elsewhere. If you strongly believe that women should not wear a hijab, for example, moving to a country that is predominantly Muslim may anger you. Think about your lifestyle too. Some European countries, like Spain, for example, take siestas in the afternoons. Shops, bars and restaurants shut and the town or city gets quieter. Will this suit the lifestyle and free time you have?
Can you haggle?
Haggling isn’t something that is often done in places like the USA and the UK. However, in some countries, it is just a way of life. Rather than being rude or disrespectful, it is expected!
Once again, knowing the language or, at least, the basics means you’ll be far better equipped when it comes to haggling and save money! The less like a tourist you look, the less you will be given ‘tourist’ prices. Shop in the same market stalls every day, and introduce yourself. Getting to know the people there will mean they start to respect you as ‘local’, and treat you as such.
Is subletting the property when you’re not their viable?
There are dozens of different schemes and options for when it comes to buying abroad. Find out early on in the process if you’ll be able to sublet. If it’s your own property, you should be allowed too. This is a great way of making money on the place even when you’re not there. In fact, you might even be able to earn enough to fund your own visits! However, there might be restrictions if you buy within a housing complex. Some companies won’t allow this so that those living in the local area aren’t living alongside a constant stream of people they don’t know.
Is the airfare affordable?
Air fares are well-known for their ability to fluctuate. Do your research on the price range of flights to your target country. You don’t want to get a nasty surprise in the summer months when you can’t even afford to get there.
Also, research whether or not there are alternative ways of getting there. If you could drive, how many hours would it take and what would be the approximate cost of petrol? Or what about the ferry? Knowing your options here is important. What's the point in buying a holiday home if you can never get out there?
Are you happy to travel elsewhere less often?
One sacrifice many people who buy abroad have to make is the ability to travel elsewhere. This might be travelling elsewhere as regularly, or at all. If you’re fine with that, go ahead. But if not, you might want to consider buying in a few years time instead. Use the money you would have used on your property to tick off a few more places on your bucket list. You might even discover somewhere you love even more in that time, and end up buying there!
Who will keep an eye on the property when you’re away?
Empty properties are appealing to thieves and burglars. There is nobody inside to interfere with their crime. Plus, if you don’t find out about a burglary until weeks or even months later, they’ll be long gone and catching them will be incredibly hard. Do you have someone who can keep an eye on things while you’re away? This is one reason why properties in holiday villages are so great. They sometimes come with an onsite security guard. Or at the very least, there will be neighbours around in a similar boat. You can then take it in turns to look out for one another. Once again, this is where knowing the language can come in useful! Take a cake over to your neighbours on either side and introduce yourself! They’ll probably be more than happy to help, and you can return the favour for them.
Are you excited?
It’s okay to feel stressed and a bit worried during the process. But make sure you maintain your sense of motivation and excitement. If this disappears, reassess if the decision you’re making is the right one. If it definitely still is, keep your eye on the prize, remind yourself what all the hard work is for and keep going. You’ll be so glad you did in the end.